Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. - Norman Cousins
The Death of Dumbledore
Sam lounged on Alicia's old comfy sofa in her pajamas, stretching out her toes which were still sore from rehearsals. She was grateful for the evening off - a small gift of gratitude from the company as the next two performances were already sold out with tickets for the one after that three-fourths sold.
"Got a nice feature in today's Prophet," Alicia said as she walked in from the kitchen with a mug of tea in hand and tossed the paper at Sam. She sat up and continued to flex and unflex her toes as she looked through the article.
Watsworths' New Star Shines Bright as Juliet
"Looks like their promotional campaign is paying off," Sam said.
"Looks like your dancing is paying off," Alicia replied with a smirk as she sat in the arm chair and pulled her feet up. Sam glanced over at her, rolling her eyes slightly.
"Still, wish it could have been Christopher's program," she replied.
"Thought you didn't like him anymore," Alicia commented as she flipped through an issue of Witch Weekly that she had picked up from the coffee table.
"As a person, I still think he's wretched, but that program was amazing," Sam said, flipping through to look at other articles. "Plus, he's been behaving himself." Alicia glanced over at her and shifted in her chair.
"Talk to Wood?" she asked cautiously. Sam huffed and continued looking at the paper.
"No. And I'm not planning to until he apologizes and means it," she said, turning the page rather violently. Alicia just shook her head slightly as she looked up at the ceiling, silently imploring Merlin or someone to get the two to make up so she could have her flat to herself again. She was seriously considering Benjy's offer to let her stay at his place.
"Got any idea on how long that'll be?" Alicia asked. Sam put down the paper and glared at her best friend.
"If I'm too much a bother, I'm sure Lucy and Lauren wouldn't mind putting me up on their sofa," she replied. Alicia sighed heavily.
"It's not that I don't want you here, Sam. It's just… it's been days!" Alicia whined.
"It's been less than three days," Sam retorted.
"And no end in sight. You two are bloody driving us all crazy," Alicia said. "Just kiss and make up already!"
"I did nothing wrong," Sam replied.
"I think not telling anyone that Antonius Fucking Flint threatened you is something wrong," Alicia said, glaring at her.
"He didn't threaten me!" Sam shouted. "I'm perfectly safe!"
"You are not, Sam!" Alicia snapped. "He could show up at any time and whisk you off to some dark, death dungeon!"
"He wouldn't dare. Not with all the publicity on me," Sam said, returning her attention to the paper. "It would draw too much attention." Alicia rolled her eyes.
"Point is, Oliver did what he did to protect you," Alicia said, struggling to keep her voice calm. "Because it's obvious you don't care the slightest about your own personal safety." Sam glared at her.
"Yes, we all know. Take care of yourself. We're back to that one again," Alicia said, clearly annoyed.
"I can take care of myself!" Sam shouted.
"Sure, you can… especially with a crew of death eaters coming after you," Alicia said. Sam threw down the paper and jumped to her feet.
She was suddenly cut off as a spectral eagle soared into the flat and landed on the coffee table, fixing Sam in its gaze. She sat down, immediately recognizing her father's patronus. Her heart stopped for a moment as she started shaking. At the very least her father was alive, but it could mean anything.
There's been an attack at Hogwarts. Harry is safe, but Dumbledore is dead.
The eagle then disappeared, leaving Sam and Alicia in stunned silence as Sam continued staring at the spot on the table where the eagle had been perched. Sam then leaned back on the sofa, still too shocked to cry or say anything.
"That was your dad, yea?" Alicia asked softly, also staring at the table. Sam swallowed.
"Yea," she said.
"You think he was there?" Alicia asked, looking over at Sam.
"Probably," she replied, her voice cracking slightly. "He's been in Hogsmeade most days the past few months."
"Dumbledore is dead…" Alicia murmured.
"If Dumbledore's gone… what does that mean?" Alicia asked. Sam looked over at her, shaking her head.
"I don't want to think about it," she said, her voice a near whisper.
"But… we've got the rest of the Order still…"
They were both silent again, their thoughts wrapped up in various memories of their old headmaster. The thought of Dumbledore dying had never even crossed Sam's mind. Even though she had barely seen him in all the time she had been a member of the Order, she always thought that he would be there leading the charge. He had been the leader of the Order and the fight against the Dark Lord, after all. Where did they stand now that he had been killed?
"I should go check on my father," Sam said suddenly, starting to stand. "I'll come back with whatever other news he has." Alicia nodded, watching her.
"Be safe, Sam."
Oliver sat on the sofa in the flat, half-heartedly watching the football match that was playing as Aiden and Trevor shouted at the screen while Percy spent most of his time watching Oliver, a worried frown on his face.
When he had gotten in late from practice that day, he couldn't stand the idea of another night in the empty flat. He had sent owls to Sam over the weekend, but she had ignored them. It was the longest since they moved in together that they had been apart without speaking. At least in Hogwarts he still saw her when she wasn't speaking to him.
His initial reaction had been to owl Adrian to come over, but then he remembered that he was now gone into hiding. So instead he had invited his old roommates over. He had been meaning to hang out with them more anyway, and he was hoping for a distraction. While he had been initially worried about having Perce over with the others, Aiden and Trevor hadn't mentioned anything, all of them falling back into their old friendship easily.
"What the bloody hell was he thinking!" Aiden shouted, jumping to his feet, beer in hand. "That's rubbish! Rubbish!"
"It was a good call," Trevor replied, smirking.
"Oh, shut it, you tosser. You're only saying that because you're rooting for the other team," Aiden retorted as he sat back down.
"If I understand this game correctly, it would seem that the referee is, indeed, in the right," Percy said, studying the screen intently.
"How would you know," Aiden grumbled to himself. "I am right, aren't I, Wood?" Oliver looked over at Aiden, eyes wide.
"Still hung up on the fight with Sam?" Trevor asked. Oliver sighed.
"That obvious?" he asked.
"You invited us over on a work night. With playoffs about to start," Aiden replied. "And you haven't said a damn word about the match."
"Not like we have much of a chance now with Adrian and Ian gone," Oliver said before taking a drink of his beer. "Half our reserves depleted as well…"
"You know how Sam is. She'll blow you off a few days and then she'll come back and forgive you. She always does," Aiden said.
"You didn't see her or how angry she was," Oliver replied. "She ripped off the locket I gave her for her birthday…"
"But eventually even she has to see the sense in what you did," Percy said. "She has no disregard whatsoever for her own safety. It's only logical that you would go to her father." Oliver frowned at Percy.
"That's beside the point," he said.
"I don't see how it could be," Percy replied calmly.
"She asked me not to tell him and I went behind her back and told him anyway," Oliver said.
"You feared for her life," Percy said. "And with good reason. Antonius Flint is not to be trifled with. And then with the death eaters going after Adrian and Cassius… It's not so farfetched that they might come after her as well. Or any of us."
"Don't see you going into hiding," Oliver retorted.
"Because there is still work to be done. Work that only I can do," Percy said. "I have a part to play in all this too."
"Pushing papers and all," Aiden replied. Percy frowned at him.
"I do not push papers," he snapped. "I assist the Minister. And trust me, with everything that is going on, there is much he needs assistance with. Besides, I don't see either of you doing anything of importance."
"Just what do you know about what I'm doing?!" Aiden shouted, now scowling across the room. "And if you're going to get all high and mighty on us, might as well direct some of that at Oliver as well. He's playing bloody quidditch!" Percy glanced at Oliver and back at Aiden, pursing his lips slightly. Neither Aiden nor Trevor knew about Oliver or Sam's involvement in the Order.
"Shut it, Aiden. We're all doing what we can," Oliver said tiredly. "Besides, if things keep going the way they are, we'll all be far more involved than we probably want to be before long…"
"Don't forget, he was at that muggle club that got attacked," Trevor added. "Saw a bit of action there." Aiden stayed silent as Oliver rolled his eyes.
"Can we just… not argue about this?" he said, looking around the room. "That's not why I invited you all over tonight."
"Fine," Aiden said, returning his attention to the TV.
"Have you been able to talk to her?" Trevor asked. Oliver shook his head.
"She's still at Alicia's. I've been giving her space. Sent a couple of owls, but when she didn't reply, decided it best to wait it out a bit," Oliver said. "Besides, she's got enough on her plate with the production and all."
Trevor glanced down at the coffee table, seeing the day's Prophet open to an article on the performance, several large photographs of Sam included. Oliver had read it several times already.
"Think it's such a good idea for her to be getting so much publicity? I mean, if Flint's father is after her, doesn't that just make her more of a target?" Trevor asked. Oliver shrugged.
"Maybe? Maybe not? Who knows? All we do know is that he's a sick fuck and there's no way of knowing what he's got planned," Oliver replied. "Did show up on the middle of the sidewalk in Diagon Alley just to toy with her."
"Which is why she should be in hiding," Percy said. Oliver shot him a look. "Don't give me that look, Oliver. You know I'm right."
"And we all know that Sam is going to do what she bloody well wants to do. We try and force her into hiding, she's just going to run off somewhere else," Oliver said with a sigh. "Save kidnapping her. Granted she'd likely even find her way out of that."
"She always was rather clever," Trevor said.
"She's obviously not using any of that intellect at the moment," Percy said. Oliver glared at him again.
"Enough, Perce," he said. Percy sighed heavily.
"Fine," he said, returning his gaze to the game that no one was really paying attention to anymore. They watched in silence for a bit when suddenly a spectral Labrador bounded into the living room and barked at them. The four men sat up, instantly on edge.
There was an attack on Hogwarts. Dumbledore's dead. We're safe, Alicia's voice said, floating out from the dog. It then barked again and bounded away.
For several minutes, the only sound in the apartment was the match on the TV.
"I've got to get to Sam," Oliver said, shooting up from the sofa.
"Hold on," Percy said. Oliver looked over at him.
"What does this mean?" Aiden asked, interrupting them. Oliver and Percy looked over at him. His eyes were wide and the color had drained from his face. "If Dumbledore's gone?"
"I don't know," Percy said, swallowing. "I don't know…"
Sam ran through the wards surrounding her family's house and bounded up to the front door, tossing it open, then running through the foyer into the living room. She slid to a stop, her eyes widening as she saw her father sitting on the sofa, staring at the floor, Celeste next to him. The Woods stood nearby, huddled together.
"Dad," she said breathlessly. Roger looked up at her slowly. It looked like he had aged several years since the last time she had seen him. "It's true?" He nodded slowly.
"We were watching Hogwarts. And then… it all happened so quickly. We got word of death eaters in the castle… got there as quickly as we could," he said. "The Malfoy boy helped them get in…"
"How?" Sam asked. "How did Dumbledore…"
"Severus Snape," Roger said coldly. "Bloody snake was double-crossing us the whole damn time." Sam's hand flew to her mouth. "Coward got away with the rest of them…"
"Did… was anyone else hurt?" Sam asked.
"Bill… he was attacked by Greyback," Roger said.
"Oh god…" Sam said.
"He won't turn into a werewolf, we think, but took a chunk of his face," Roger said. "Everyone else got out unscathed."
Sam stared at her father for a moment before running across the room and wrapping her arms around him.
"Thank Merlin you're okay," she whispered. Roger slowly lifted his arms and pulled her close. Sam had begun crying.
"I'm fine, Sam," he said.
"But, but… Dumbledore's really gone," she said.
"Yes, he is… but… we have to keep going on," he said. Sam stepped back, looking down at him. "The war is not lost just because we lost Dumbledore." Sam nodded, and wiped her cheeks.
"I'm so sorry for all the things I said before," she said.
"It's in the past," Roger replied.
"You just wanted to protect me," Sam continued, starting to sob. Roger stood from the sofa and pulled his daughter into his arms again, rubbing her back.
"As I recall, you're more than capable of taking care of yourself," he said softly.
"I am, but you didn't deserve to be called a dictator," Sam said.
"Samantha, it's going to be okay," he replied.
"I'm not so sure," she replied. She looked up at him. "Does this mean we need to go into hiding?"
"I'm not sure. None of us really know what we need to do next," he said. Sam nodded. "Go home. Get some rest. We'll be safe for tonight."
"Are you sure? I can stay here tonight," Sam replied. Roger smiled slightly.
"I'm not going to die tonight," he said.
"But you could have," she said. "All of you. Any of you." Roger sighed.
"But we didn't. Don't worry yourself about that. Get somewhere safe. Get some rest. We'll talk more about our next move later," he said gently. "Besides, you have a performance tomorrow." Sam nodded.
When Sam returned to Alicia's flat, she wasn't expecting to see Lauren and Lucy there. Alicia had apparently sent word to all their friends while Sam was out to her parents' house.
"You just missed Oliver," Lauren said softly. "We told him you were at your parents and we didn't know when you'd be back." Sam nodded and then walked over, sitting next to her on the sofa.
"So… what happened?" Lucy asked, unusually soft-spoken.
"Dad said that death eaters got into castle… Snape and Draco Malfoy helped them," she said. "There was a fight. Snape killed Dumbledore. And then they all got away… Bill's hurt too."
"How badly?" Alicia asked, leaning forward.
"Greyback got him," Sam said. "Dad said they didn't think he would turn into a werewolf, but his face is injured pretty badly."
The four women were silent a few moments.
"I just can't believe he's gone," Lucy finally said. "I mean, I knew he was old, but, you just don't think about him dying, you know."
"I don't think any of us thought he'd die," Lauren said. "Not like this, anyway."
"If they got Dumbledore, they could get any of us," Lucy said.
"They could always get any of us," Sam said. They were silent a few moments before Lucy abruptly stood up and walked into the kitchen, returning with four shot glasses and a bottle of firewhisky. She sat them down on the coffee table and made quick work of pouring it out before handing them to each of the women. She then straightened up and looked around the room a moment, taking in the solemn faces.
"Professor Dumbledore was… a great man," she said after clearing her throat. "Sure, he was eccentric. And maddeningly confusing sometimes. But Hogwarts, the wizarding world, would not be what it is without him. And he's left a mark on all of us in one way or another." She then held her glass out. "To Professor Dumbledore."
Alicia, Lauren and Sam glanced at each other before holding their own glasses out.
"To Professor Dumbledore," they all murmured before taking their drinks. Lucy sat back down, staring at the empty glass in her hand.
"Still doesn't seem real," Sam said, staring at the table.
"I don't think the professor would want us to wallow though," Lauren said, causing the group to look at her. "I mean… I think he'd like us to keep fighting." Sam nodded slowly as she reached out and grabbed the bottle, pouring more into her glass and then into Lauren's.
"We should," she said. "This war's not over yet."
"And we've got each other. Our families," Lauren said.
"Not to mention, I don't like to think about the alternative if we lose," Lucy added. "What they would do to all the muggles and muggleborn…"
"That's why we need to keep fighting," Lauren said, her voice getting a bit stronger. 'We have to fight for them as well as ourselves." The women all nodded in agreement.
"We'll win this," Sam said, a note of resolution filling her voice. "We have to. Like Lauren said, it's what he'd want."
The hallway in St. Mungo's was quiet, granted it was late. Fleur was pacing as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley huddled together. Tonks was leaning against Lupin, who was rubbing her arm as he stared at the floor.
"I'm here," Celeste said, walking down the corridor at a quick pace. "Got here as soon as I finished with Roger." She came to a stop, looking at the grim faces.
"There's a healer in with him now," Mrs. Weasley said softly. Celeste nodded.
"I'll go take a look and see what I can do. He's in good hands," she said before walking into the room.
"Come, Molly. Let's get some tea. Bill's in good hands now that Celeste is here," Mr. Weasley said softly. Molly nodded, and went with him, quietly sobbing as they made their way down the hallway.
"He'll be okay, Fleur," Tonks said softly looking over at her. Fleur stopped pacing and looked over at the couple.
"I cannot help but worry," she said, the tears apparent in her eyes.
"He won't… be like me," Lupin said. "You know that, right?" Fleur nodded, though she looked at the door. At that moment, Celeste opened it and looked out.
"He's asking for you, Fleur," she said, smiling softly. Fleur nodded and rushed into the room as Celeste held the door open for the healer to come out and then followed, shutting it softly behind her. "How are you two?"
She stepped over to them, her keen healer's eye pouring over them for any injuries.
"We're fine. Thank you, Celeste," Lupin replied. Celeste nodded.
"I'll go take care of some paperwork then… but I'll be back to check on him in a bit. Let me know if you need anything," she said before walking off.
Tonks sighed and wiped her cheeks, the tears not being able to stop.
"Do you mean it?" she asked softly, not looking up at Lupin. "What you said?" Lupin sighed.
"I still don't think it's a good idea… but yes, I meant every word," he replied. Tonks looked up at him.
"What changed your mind?" she asked. Lupin smiled.
"I suppose I figured it was time I got over myself," he said. "And after that grand declaration…"
"I meant everything," Tonks said. "I do love you and nothing will ever change that."
"I know," Lupin said. "As I said, I love you." Tonks straightened up and lightly kissed him. "I've been thinking, Dora…" Tonks' face lit up slightly. "Bill and Fleur inspired me…" He stepped back from her, taking her hands in his. "Suppose I should do this properly." He then went down on one knee, still holding her hands. "Dora… will you marry me?"
Tonks could barely control her happiness as she grinned and bounced on her toes.
"Yes, Remus," she said breathlessly. Before he could stand, she launched herself into his arms, nearly knocking him over as she kissed him. "And I don't need a ring." Lupin chuckled as Tonks helped him to stand.
"We should likely have something quiet, all things considering," he said. Tonks nodded.
"Wouldn't seem right… not with Dumbledore…" she said, her voice trailing off.
"I think he would want us to be happy," Remus replied.
"He would, wouldn't he," she replied, leaning her head against his chest. The two fell into silence, taking a moment to feel the impact of everything. "I just can't believe that he's… really gone…"
"I can't either, but we need to keep going… this isn't over yet," he replied.
"But it will be some day," Tonks said, looking up at him. Remus smiled again.
"Yes… it will be…"
Don't know about you, but I always wondered how the others reacted to Dumbledore's death, hence this chapter. At least it gave me the opportunity to explore that a bit...
.2019 - Thanks!
Camryn Kissel - Thank you so much!
Son of Whitebeard - Yep, though partially resolved for the time being.
Thanks for reading and following!